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Professor Kitty Meets Jesus

I stepped onto my yoga mat and found a little treasure beside my crystals. Max must have given it to me as a gift, and while he can’t articulate his gesture, I know exactly what trains mean to him. The timing couldn’t be better, with April being World Autism Acceptance Month. As a mother and advocate of children on the Autism spectrum, this little train means the world to me.

Max knows when spaces are welcoming and sacred. His trains are magical, like my crystals. Both are fascinating because of their dynamic energy, color patterns or routes, function, and purpose (like Thomas the Tank Engine). They each bring a sense of peace to their collector as they appreciate every nuance with meticulous detail of something they love.

This little train is a reminder of how autism has been the ride of my life. My journey has been anything but peaceful as I’ve fought tirelessly against stereotypes and misconceptions about autism. Finding a friend or a mental health provider who accurately reflects our experiences has been the greatest challenge.

The challenges and risks associated with Autism are magnified when someone lacks support and understanding. Such challenges can lead to higher risks for accidents, self-harm, addiction, physical and sexual abuse, eating disorders, low self-esteem, and misdiagnosis (to name a few).

The barriers that people with Autism face are rarely seen or understood. This can lead them to dissociate, isolate, and become self-critical, anxious, and depressed. While it’s a challenge for all neurodivergent people to adapt to a neurotypical society, it’s demoralizing to wear a masks to fit in. Next to hyper-fixations, nothing brings greater solace to neurodivergent individuals than shedding these masks and being seen and accepted for who they truly are.

Our ABA therapist recently created a character to help Max self-regulate, called “Professor Kitty.” He helps Max focus on something other than his anxiety when he’s feeling disregulated. He takes the pressure off of demands by showing Max how to do hard things. We have laminated pictures of Professor Kitty going potty, taking a bath, going to school, and calmly sitting at the dinner table. I realized this week that Jesus is a lot like Professor Kitty. He empowers me through life’s seasons and helps me build tolerance for change.

This little train on my yoga mat is a token of gratitude from a little boy who is seen, loved, and accepted, just as I am by Jesus through my church community. Like Professor Kitty, this little train reminds me to embrace chance and create safe and sacred spaces for all. It’s a reminder as we learn how to grow together and worship in our communities, to celebrate our differences and advocate for those who are marginalized.

I’m excited to announce St. Brigid’s first neurodivergent church service! It will have a Professor Kitty-meets-Jesus vibe, where all individuals feel accepted, included, supported, respected, and accommodated. We invite you to join us and to search for more inclusive and equitable ways to worship. Happy Autism Acceptance Month! May it encourage us to embrace neurodiversity and promote inclusion, like the exemplary Professor Kitty and Jesus.

For more information about St. Brigid’s or their neurodivergent church service, please email Rev. Brian Peterson at stbrigidsoside@gmail.com.

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Category: #Advocacy, #Worship & Formation

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One reply to “Professor Kitty Meets Jesus

  1. Diane Lopez Hughes | on April 15, 2024

    What an inspiring article in so many ways! Thank you for sharing this small part of your family journey, as well as a reminder how we could be more attentive to the gifts of every person, whether in our family or the world outside.

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